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According to the BBC more than two thirds of UK citizens don’t have a Will. It’s easy to put off making a Will. Thinking about what will happen after you die isn’t exactly an appealing prospect and this might be why lots of people avoid the process.  It is important to know when you should make a Will so you don’t end up dying intestate and leaving your loved ones in a tricky and sometimes vulnerable situation.

People worry about visiting a Solicitor’s office. For many years we having been trying to shake off the old impression of fuddy duddiness and believe that clients now actually enjoy the experience which previously they thought to be depressing or dark.

Many people prefer to head for a firm of Solicitors as this comes with the reassurance of professionals who have undergone structured and well regulated training over many years (and mandatory training on an ongoing basis), as opposed to employing a Will Writer who offer cut price Wills but do not have the training or indeed experiences that a Solicitor may have had especially if they have worked in a Solicitors office as long as I have!

It is important to know when you should make a Will so you don’t end up dying intestate and leaving your loved ones in a tricky and sometimes vulnerable situation. A Will can be very effective in reducing inheritance tax and protecting blood line inheritance. Making a Will is about protecting your assets, not preparing for death.

If you don’t make a Will your money and property will be distributed according to the Rules of Intestacy and this may not be entirely what you had hoped for, and it may have a detrimental effect on those that you leave behind.

Do you have a child with a learning disability or do you really want your son or daughter to inherit as young as 18 – aren’t they vulnerable at that age?

Have you thought about the impact on your family when faced with the prospect of selling your house to pay for your Nursing Home fees?  Right or wrong the majority of families believe that the family home will be their inheritance but with the majority of the population living a lot longer this is not now the case.

Contrary to what is assumed by the majority if you are married and die without a Will the surviving partner will not automatically inherit all your estate.

If you are unmarried your partner will not automatically receive anything and the impact of inheritance tax can be greater for unmarried couples.

Wills can be advantageous for a variety of reasons such as inheritance tax mentioned earlier but financially speaking you may be facing concerns in how best to provide for your family and in some cases it is either impossible or undesirable to pass assets outright to a person with a disability or to your spouse if they have been diagnosed with Alzheimers or Parkinsons.

If your child is mentally disabled they will be unable to make the relevant financial decisions themselves, as would someone suffering in old age with Alzheimers or Parkinsons. Likewise physically disabled children under 18 also require someone to make sensible financial decisions on their behalf.

Without proper planning and guidance you can cause problems for your vulnerable beneficiary as any inheritance could have a huge impact on the level of means tested benefits they receive. Your child could lose the right to benefits such as Housing Benefit or Income Support as they are only allowed a minimum capital sum of £6000.

In addition, many vulnerable people are unable to manage their own finances particularly if they inherit a lump sum. This leaves them open to being taken advantage of, spending or giving away their inheritance rather than using it for their future.

So, consider making a Will incorporating a Trust to help with

  • Inheritance tax
  • Protecting your family home
  • Protecting any vulnerable beneficiary

Don’t put off making a will any longer, and when with your Solicitor ask them to explain about Lasting Powers of Attorney!

Christine Thornley, Partner & Joint Head of Wills, Trusts and Probate team